Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Scott Darling gets emotional as he leaves Chicago for Carolina

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Scott Darling gets emotional as he leaves Chicago for Carolina

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, former Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling joins Pat Boyle to discuss his favorite memories with the Hawks, joining the Hurricanes and what happened vs. Nashville in the playoffs?

Plus, Tracey Myers and Charlie Roumeliotis join Pat to discuss Richard Panik’s extension, Artemi Panarin at the World Championships and OHL phenom Alex DeBrincat’s chances of making the big club next season.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below.

Scott Darling grateful for time with Blackhawks, 'super excited' about next chapter with Hurricanes

Scott Darling grateful for time with Blackhawks, 'super excited' about next chapter with Hurricanes

At the end of the season, Scott Darling said "it's going to be a long couple months waiting" to see how his situation as a pending unrestricted free agent plays out.

He didn't have to wait nearly as long as expected.

It took exactly a week to iron out a long-term extension with the Carolina Hurricanes, who traded for the former Blackhawks goaltender's negotiating rights for a 2017 third-round pick on April 28 and signed him to a four-year, $16.6 million contract Friday. 

And Darling is already looking forward to the next chapter.

"I was super excited when the trade happened," he said during a conference call with reporters Saturday. "My goal the whole time was to sign with Carolina. I'm really excited about the team that's there. I've heard nothing but great things. Once we worked out the contract part, it was a no-brainer."

The Hurricanes took a risk by acquiring the 28-year-old Lemont native, and not necessarily because they invested in a guy who's been a backup for the last three years. He has the tools to be a full-time starter, and they saw it first-hand when Darling stopped 39 of 40 shots against Carolina at the United Center in January.

"When you look at the size of Scott and at the body of work he's put in to this point, you get a sense of where you think he could be and what you think he can do," GM Ron Francis said. "I like the fact that he's big and competitive as hell. We feel he's ready for that opportunity and capable of succeeding."

The real gamble was that Darling could have easily passed on signing a deal so he could hit the market on July 1 to expand his pool of options. But he bought what Carolina was selling, and even chatted with former Chicago teammates Bryan Bickell and Joakim Nordstrom that helped reaffirm his positive beliefs about the organization.

"That kind of put my mind at ease," Darling said.

A large reason why Darling is as ready as possible to become an every day starter is because he had the opportunity to learn from two-time Stanley Cup champion Corey Crawford on a regular basis. Both netminders were instrumental in the Blackhawks' 2015 championship run, but Darling was able to share the ups and downs with Crawford throughout that journey and get a feel for how to overcome adverse situations.

"I think the last three years I learned a lot about the mental part of the game in watching Crow play every day and being lucky enough to study one of the best goalies in the world every single day and getting advice from him, teaching me how he goes about and thinks about goaltending," Darling said. "I learned a lot from him. The skills came along, too, but I think a lot of it was between the ears. I was lucky enough to learn from one of the best."

When Crawford missed three weeks in December due to an appendectomy, Darling was given the keys by starting all 10 games in 18 days. He went 6-3-1 and registered a .931 save percentage, including a shutout, during that stretch, expanding his sample size and further proving he's capable of handling the responsibilities of being a No. 1 goaltender.

More than anything, Darling is simply hungry to take on the challenge.

"I think I'm confident because I'm excited about it," Darling said. "I’m going to do everything in my power to learn how to be the best starter I can be. I have a good network of goalie friends and I’m going to be picking their brains and asking for help and do everything I can do to be successful.”

Scott Darling agrees to four-year deal with Hurricanes

Scott Darling agrees to four-year deal with Hurricanes

Exactly a week after the Blackhawks traded his negotiating rights to Carolina, Scott Darling has signed a long-term contract with the Hurricanes, the team announced Friday.

It's a four-year deal that carries a $4.15 million cap hit, a well-deserved and earned pay raise. It also includes a limited no-trade clause, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

"Obviously Scott could have waited until July 1, to see what other options he might have as an unrestricted free agent," Carolina GM Ron Francis said in a statement. "But he believes in what we are trying to do here and we are thrilled that he is committing to the Hurricanes and to Raleigh."

Darling turned in his best season in the NHL this past year, recording a career high 18 wins and finishing tied for fifth with a .924 save percentage. In three seasons with Chicago, he compiled a 39-17-9 record with a 2.37 goals against average, .923 save percentage and four shutouts.

The signing is a great one for both sides. Darling is going to a situation where there's a young core and promising future while the Hurricanes are getting a potential No. 1 goaltender, something they've lacked for years.